We are in Wuhan!!! We arrived about 7pm. Our guide, Zoe, met us at the airport. She is wonderful, very exuberant personality. It took us about an hour to get to our hotel. It was dark, but so far Wuhan looks like a much prettier city than Beijing. There seem to be more newer buildings and even the older ones have been renovated and do not appear as run-down as the ones in Beijing. There are many colored lights everywhere. Several of the skyscrapers have colored blinking lights decorating them. Very pretty at night. I am trying to absorb as much as I can of Wuhan so that I can remember as much as possible about Rachel’s hometown.
Right now Tommy and Caleb are laughing at Winnie the Pooh in Chinese on TV. We decided to order room service for supper since we arrived so late. Plus, Caleb is pretty tired. Tommy had fun trying to order pizza. He talked to four or five people before he succeeded in ordering. The pizza is good but very different from our pizza.
Caleb is not enjoying the food very much. Fortunately, I brought lots of snacks from home. When we went out to shop last night, we took him to McDonald’s to get a Happy Meal. Interestingly, at Chinese McDonalds you have a choice of French fries or corn with your meal.
This morning we toured a jade factory. It was fascinating! We saw the different kinds and colors of jade, saw what it looks like before it is carved and polished, and watched people carving it. One of the amazing things they were making was a happiness ball. It is four or more jade balls one inside the other. The fascinating part is that they are carved from a solid piece of jade. I bought a lavendar jade bracelet and a jade pendant that is the traditional green color to give to Rachel when she is older.
Next we drove to the Great Wall! We went to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall 55 miles from Beijing. My guidebook says that the wall here dates from 1368 and was built on the foundations of the wall built from 550-577. It was truly amazing! Visiting the places in China built so many years ago it is just hard to comprehend something being there for that long. And it is also hard to imagine people building such things that long ago.
We rode a cable car to the top of the section we visited. Then I convinced Tommy and Caleb to walk down the wall to the bottom. They were reluctant but decided to appease me. It was quite a walk. I really would have liked to climb it instead of riding a cable car to the top. Christy, I thought about you while Tommy and Caleb were grumbling about walking the wall. I kept thinking, “If Christy was here, she would climb the wall with me.” Luckily, it was not as cold as we thought it was going to be today, and it was sunny. I actually got too hot walking on the wall and had to take off some layers.
Okay, walking the Great Wall of China was really cool. But even I have to admit that the coolest part was getting to ride a chute down to the bottom of the mountain. We each sat on a sled-like cart and rode a giant slide down the mountain. Eli and Titus, it is like the one we rode last year in Gatlinburg, except this one was MUCH longer. It was great fun! Except there were some wimpy law students from NY in front of us who were too scared to go very fast. We kept having to put on the brakes to keep from running over them.
At the bottom of the mountain there were many booths with people selling souveniers. These vendors were even more agressive than the ones we met yesterday. One lady kept chasing Tommy down trying to sell him a small dragon and some terra cotta soldier models that he had asked about. She kept lowering her price trying to get him to agree to buy. Whenever we tried to walk away, she would grab Tommy’s arm and holler a different price. Tommy finally got away while I was asking her about some Chinese dolls. I decided to buy them, but I had to get some money from Tommy. She would not let me past her to get to him. She stood in front of me hollering prices. I finally convinced her that I had to get to Tommy but I would come right back. Even after I bought the dolls, she followed us down the road until we left trying to get Tommy to buy from her. She lowered her price from about $70USD all the way down to $12USD. But Tommy had already decided that he didn’t want to buy from her. It was an interesting and humorous experience.
After the Great Wall, we ate lunch at another traditional Chinese restaurant. They give us soooo much food at these meals. Tommy and I try all of the foods they bring us, but some of them are very strange. Most of the food has such different flavors than what we are used to that we don’t like it very much. But we try to eat it so we won’t hurt their feelings. I did have a dish I like today that was beef and eggplant in some sort of sauce.
Beijing is a very gray city. I am sure part of it is that we are here in winter. But most of the building are gray and rather drab. Everything was gray and brown. Even the pine trees and fir trees are not very green. They are a dark brownish-green. One thing that stood out to me in Beijing is the huge number of old, run-down apartment buildings. There were just so many of them. At night when we were riding around we could see inside some of them, and they just look so dreary. It makes me sad for the people who have to live in them.
We were able to see some of the countryside driving to the Great Wall. The mountainous area where we were reminded me and Tommy of Colorado.
On the way to the Great Wall, we passed a small wall. Caleb said, “There’s the not-so-great wall.” 🙂
Our flight from Beijing to Wuhan was interesting. We sat in the plane waiting for them to “load some cargo” for a very long time. After waiting about 40 minutes, a flight attendant came to tell us that the captain said that there were some animals in the cargo area, one had escaped, and they were trying to catch it. We ended up taking off 45minutes past when we were scheduled to leave.
This flight was harder than our 14 hour flight from the US. It was unbearably hot on the airplane. Tommy and I both had long underwear and multiple layers on since it is so cold in Beijing. We took off as many layers as we could but it was still suffocatingly hot. Caleb fell asleep on the flight. But Tommy and I were miserable and about to go nuts by the end of the flight. But it was exciting when we could see the lights of Wuhan. Tommy said, “Our little girl is down there somehwere.”
Tommy is already asleep, and I need to be soon. We meet Rachel at 10am tomorrow morning!!! That is 8pm in Mississippi. I can hardly wait! We’ve been so busy the past few days that I haven’t had much time to think about tomorrow. But now it is starting to feel real! I will let Tommy post photos of today later. We will post photos tomorrow as soon as we can.
Thank you so much for the prayers that have brought us to tomorrow! I am so grateful to everyone who is praying for Rachel and our family during this time.